How Do You Remove Bias from a Job Posting?

From shifting the focus to inclusivity to asking a diverse team to read it over, here are 16 answers to the question, “Can you share some effective tips about removing bias from a job posting?”

Highlight Inclusive Benefits and Policies

It would be beneficial to your search for a wide pool of applicants if you included details on the company’s inclusive benefits and practices in your job offering. Mention any inclusive perks or policies that the company has in place, such as flexible work hours, paid family leave, or diversity and inclusion training. 

The act of doing so can show the company’s commitment to diversity, making it a more attractive employer for people from underrepresented groups.

Edward Mellett, Co-Founder, Wikijob

Be Careful With How You Describe a “Fun” Environment

Many businesses are making efforts to promote an exciting and fun work culture, but it is important to be careful in how you describe those characteristics so as not to alienate or portray a toxic work environment. 

There is nothing wrong with promoting a fun work environment, but using terms that bring about visions of a frat culture can be a turnoff or intimidating for some potential applicants. Invoking phrases such as “work hard and play hard” or terms that promote a party atmosphere can present an image that is not serious or, even worse, an uncomfortable environment for women. 

Instead, opt for words that cover a variety of lifestyles and interests but are softer in their approach. By avoiding words that conjure up images of out-of-control parties and using ones with broader appeal, you can showcase an enjoyable atmosphere without turning off potential quality applicants.

Cody Candee, CEO, Bounce

Avoid Superlatives

You want to hire the best fit for the job, but you should keep in mind that people view their skills differently. A person can be a veteran in their field with years of experience and still not consider themselves a master in their craft. 

When you use a lot of terms like “Expert,” “Master,” or “World Class,” you can put people off from applying to your jobs. These power words, in a general sense, can make people question whether or not your definition of expertise is within the realm of their experience and training. More modest individuals, often women but men as well, may feel put off by overly dominant, vague, and heavily embellished language such as this. 

In the most general sense, a candidate does not know what your concept of a master is, even if they have years of experience under their belt. That dissonance between employer and candidate’s expectations can be more than enough to keep people from applying.

Max Schwartzapfel, CMO, Schwartzapfel Lawyers

Include an Equal Opportunity Employment (EOE) Statement

An Equal Opportunity Employment (EOE) statement is a simple yet powerful gesture for any employer looking to attract high-quality talent in a competitive labor marketplace. An EOE conveys an employer’s commitment to inclusion and diversity. Although there are many ways to write such a statement, include some key things for an effective statement.

Right off the bat, state that you are an equal opportunity employer and do not discriminate against any candidate based on non-merit factors. Emphasize your commitment to diversity to attract minority and marginalized talent and assure potential employees that they are welcome and valued at your organization. 

Last, your statement should highlight that your hiring decisions are based on merit and business needs. Assuring job applicants you are committed to nurturing a workplace where everyone is respected and valued boosts their confidence in your organization.

Joe Coletta, Founder and CEO, 180 Engineering

Welcome Stay-at-Home Parents

One of the biggest biases to avoid if you want to attract top talent is to clarify that resumes that show a few years of stay-at-home parenting are not negated. Communicate that you welcome people who left the workforce to raise children for a few years.

Stephanie Schull, CEO, Kegelbell

Give Importance to Soft Skills

Job postings that are unconsciously biased towards male applicants will typically feature hard, technical skills and breeze past any soft skills. While women are obviously as qualified in the hard skills, the verbiage can lean into stereotypes we associate with hyper-masculine business culture. 

Basically, if it feels like copy for The Wolf of Wall Street, you are alienating droves of capable applicants. Communicating that you value teamwork, empathy, leadership, and communication are areas that attract more diverse applicants, due in part to gendered connotations. But listing soft skills that rely on emotional intelligence and communication alongside technical hard skills will create a balanced posting.

Gates Little, President and CEO, altLINE Sobanco

Check for Biased Language

Hiring managers can remove bias from job postings by being relentless about using unbiased language. According to research published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, certain words in job postings can highlight unconscious bias and deter people from applying to your job posting. 

One thing you can do is use various online tools such as Gender Decoder to make sure that you are using gender-neutral words and phrases so as not to play into feminine and masculine stereotypes and gender-coded words. Use “legacy” instead of “grandfathered;” instead of “manned,” use “staffed”; instead of “chairman,” use “chair” or “chairperson.” 

Fighting unconscious bias can be done quickly with a myriad of online tools and resources that can help you craft the most bias-free job posting that focuses on attracting top talent and won’t discourage anyone from applying and showcasing their skills.

Gordana Sretenovic, Co-Founder, Workello

Steer Clear of Exclusionary Words

Avoiding exclusionary language is one crucial step in removing bias from job postings. This includes words or phrases that could be interpreted as discriminatory towards specific groups, such as specifying a preferred race, age, gender, religion, or national origin. 

Thus, terms such as “seeking a male candidate,” “must be under 40 years old,” “fluent in English required,” or referencing physical abilities, such as “must be able to lift 50 lbs,” should be avoided. These examples could limit the pool of applicants, potentially excluding qualified people based on characteristics that are protected under anti-discrimination laws. 

Besides, even those ideally fitted for the position seeing exclusionary language may decide not to apply as a form of protest. Instead, focus on the skills and qualifications necessary for the job. Using inclusive language, such as “all candidates are welcome” or “we value diversity at our company,” can help create a more welcoming and inclusive atmosphere.

Nina Paczka, Community Manager, Resume Now

Pay Attention to Language and Diversify the Hiring Team

Bias in job postings can take many forms. It includes any language/statement that could be interpreted as favoring an applicant because of gender, race, age, sexual orientation, religion, or other personal characteristics. 

Avoid using pronouns in the description; use only gender-neutral terms such as “they” instead of “she/he”. Try avoiding gendered language by replacing words like “assertive” with “dynamic” and phrases like “manage people under your supervision” with “mentor team members.”

Pay attention to how you phrase the qualifications as well—phrase them as skills instead of qualities to not limit the possible talents because of perceived biases about certain traits being linked to certain genders or ethnicities. 

Also, include items only relating to relevant criteria and remove questions that might be discriminatory, such as religion. Finally, ensure you diversify those involved in deciding who gets hired.

Alysha M. Campbell, Founder and CEO, CultureShift HR

Lose the Unnecessary Degree Requirements

If a job doesn’t truly require a bachelor’s degree, take it out of the must-have column. There are some fields where a four-year degree is important, particularly for fields that involve licensing. But other times, it’s a requirement without a cause. 

College degrees can suggest all sorts of bias; both age and socioeconomic factors can come into play. Millennials, for example, are the most likely age group to have a four-year degree. If you require one to apply, you could skew the results toward their demographic. And not everyone can afford to finance a degree, either. 

To cut down on unnecessary bias in a job listing, get rid of requirements for degrees you don’t actually need.

Brian Munce, Managing Director, Gestalt Brand Lab

Remove Descriptions that Suck

If you think you’re being cool by posting jobs with terms like “SEO ninja” or “pastry Avenger,” you are wrong. 

Not only is it a desperate attempt to look cool and attract younger candidates, but the words you choose are also alienating people who aren’t usually represented by those terms. These are not actual job descriptors, yet they evoke a macho attitude that will obviously bring in more “macho” applicants while making it difficult for people outside of those archetypes to picture themselves in the roles. 

Plus, they will roll their eyes at you. So, remove these “cool” or “funny” descriptions that actually make your job posting less inclusive. Focus on the actual skills and qualities you are looking for and strike a friendly tone without trying to be cool.

Paul Kushner, CEO, My Bartender

Make Alternative Formats Available

Your job posting should be available in various formats, as a lack of accessibility will limit the people you can reach. 

Create alternative formats in HTML, Word documents, PDFs, large-print, and formats accessible to screen reader technologies. If you include visuals like images or video, include text transcripts of them. Job postings should be accessible to every candidate, so don’t let your format exclude a large pool of highly talented, skilled professionals.

Maximilian Wühr, CGO and Co-Founder, FINN

Add Anonymized Successful Hire Profiles

One uncommon thing that can be done to remove bias from a job posting is to provide anonymous profiles of successful hires. This means providing relevant job experience, education, and certifications, but omitting personal information, such as name and gender. 

Anonymous profiles allow recruiters to examine an individual’s suitability for the position without knowledge of any demographic or cultural factors that may influence opinions. Not only does this enable fairness in hiring practices, but it has also been proven to encourage diversity by allowing anyone-regardless of gender, race, or cultural background-the same chance to apply based on their accomplishments.

Grace He, People and Culture Director, Team Building

Look for Unconscious Bias-triggering Words

For me, one of the most important things to do when trying to eliminate bias from a job advertisement is to look for and remove any phrases or terms that could cause the reader to get a preconceived notion about the candidate. 

The use of discriminatory language in the employment process has been proven to result from unconscious biases and prejudices triggered by particular words and phrases. A few examples of these words are “rockstar,” “hustler,” and “competitive.” Avoid these terms and look into using more neutral language when describing the qualities you’re looking for in a candidate.

Timothy Allen, Sr. Corporate Investigator, Corporate Investigation Consulting

Stick to the Point

Try to keep your job postings as technical as possible. A surprisingly large amount of biased context can be found in the fluff of a job posting. Often, this sort of language is more based on the poster’s personal speech patterns rather than a particular bias they may hold. But should we really expect an applicant to know the difference? The answer is unequivocal, no. 

You don’t need to lose all the fluff, just be careful about how much of the writer’s personality as opposed to the company’s is going into it. When in doubt, use a short post that is gender-neutral and focuses specifically on the aspects of the job role itself. You can carefully add some color to it later after you’ve established a good basic outline. 

Even if you add nothing more, you’ll have an informative job posting that lets people know exactly what you’re looking for. That will bring the right applicants to your door without unintentionally causing anyone to steer clear.

Max Ade, CEO, Pickleheads

Have a Diverse Group of People Check It

The best way to remove bias from a job posting is to have a diverse group of people from different cultures, backgrounds, and sexual orientations approve it. They will be the first ones to notice if you skewed the job posting one way or the other and let you know. After all, they’ve been the ones who have had to deal with biases and prejudice their whole lives.

Damjan Tanaskovic, CMO, Localizely


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